Linux Step By Steps

Compaq Presario 2170CA dual boot

Written by Ian Stephen on 15-September-2003.

Compaq Presario 2170CA notebook came with Windows XP Home pre-installed on NTFS file system.  At present it seems FLOSS tools cannot partition XP's NTFS drive safely.  Partition Magic might, but the cheap option is to re-install Windows and partition the drive during installation.

Windows XP Home installation was very smooth and straight-forward to give credit where due.  The interface for partitioning the drive was the most user-friendly I've seen.  I gave Windows just under half the drive and left the rest unallocated.

Installation of Mandrake 9.1 was equally straight-forward until boot time.  On first boot it hung on initializing PCMCIA.  Seems PCMCIA has to be removed from the list of services to initialize at boot.  I re-installed from scratch to get back to the point where I could deselect PCMCIA initialization.

First time around I had just selected 'use free space'.  On re-install Mandrake showed the sizes of the partitions that had been made the first time around, but not the mount points, and wanted me to choose mount points.  What should be big?  What small?  I'm new at this, I wanted whatever Mandrake did (automatically) the first time around.  To get that choose custom partitioning, delete the existing non-Windows partitions, then back up to where you chose custom partitioning and this time choose 'use free space'.

The rest of the install went without a hitch.  If one were to avoid the mistakes I made, the whole Mandrake install takes about 20 minutes IIRC.   With setting up of desktop (KDE) and updating applications (OpenOffice.org1.0.2?  Come on Mandrake!) it was a full day before I was satisfied enough to stick a "Linux Inside" sticker on the cover.

I haven't tested everything.  The touch pad (using driver 'mouse') does not have all the functions and not all keys do as they do under Windows (ie Fn F5 toggles between LCD, external and both displays under Windows.)  Will experiment with the synaptics touchpad driver and with key mappings one day when there's time.  I have no firewire or PCMCIA devices so haven't played with any of that yet.

One gotcha was connecting an external CRT monitor.  The machine has an ATI Radeon IGP 320M card.  With XFree86 4.3's radeon driver I got a 1024x768 display on the notebook's 15" LCD.  External CRT would work during boot and in text mode, but once X started the external display was all jaggedy lines.  The solution was to insert the following into the device section of /etc/X11/XF86Config-4

Option "CloneDisplay" "0"
Option "CloneMode" "1024x768"
Option "CloneHSync" "30-50 kHz"
Option "CloneVRefresh" "50-120 Hz"

The CloneDisplay line is vital and the value must be "0".  I didn't play around with the other three lines, but expect they aren't necessary.  CloneDisplay gives the same thing on both displays, which is all I wanted.  It's not like a dual-head setup ala Xinerama.    Closing the cover turns off the LCD without affecting the CRT.  Back up your XF86Config-4 before you play and see

One amusing gotcha was that Windows XP would not burn a data CD successfully.  It gets to 100% then coughs up an error.  CD burning under Mandrake works fine on this machine's CD-RW/DVD combo drive.